I just wanted to remind everyone that Sid is clueless when it comes to baseball. In today's column, he said the following:
"The obvious problem is that teams such as the White Sox, Tigers and Indians have improved a great deal, while the Twins have gone downhill with the absence of some of the free agents they lost."
OK, here's a list of free agents the Twins have lost since 2002:
Of these, only Rogers and Jones are having much success. Otherwise, it's a mixed bag. And Terry Ryan has added the following players to replace them, either through trades, free agency, or building from within:
In all but one case, the additions are doing better than the guys they replaced. So Sid, maybe you should check your facts before you say something is obvious.
Now, if you add in the players who have left because they were traded or nontendered, you have a couple of good players: AJ Pierzinski and David Ortiz. But of those, I would only really rather have Ortiz than the other options at that position available to the Twins. And the Twins won two divisions since letting Ortiz go.
Still, why have the Twins been struggling? Well, it's a combination of things. First, until very recently, the middle of the order didn't hit at all. Second, until very recently, the starting pitching was horrid.
It is more about good players not playing up to their ability than about having bad players on the roster. Those guys who have been historically good have not played or pitched well. They just didn't do what they're capable of in April. But they have done better of late and there's reason for optimism given their track records.
But I shudder to think of how bad this team would be if it had held onto all its free agents over the years and not built from within. Imagine this rotation:
Imagine this bullpen
Imagine this lineup:
That team would have trouble winning once a week. In baseball, you have to develop players from within to remain competitive because, with few exceptions, players have a few good years and then decline, often precipitously. With the exception of Pierzinski and Hunter, that is what has happened to the team of old.
If I have a complaint about the current management it's not about losing free agents. Let em go and get some draft picks. It's that the manager refuses to let the players develop from within and instead prefers bargain basement free agents like Castro and Batista, who would probably not start on any other team in the league.
If the Twins have slipped back, it's not because free agents left. It's because they have failed to develop sufficient talent to replace players in their inevitable decline. Most of that can be pinned on the manager, who ruins hitter after hitter in his quest for mediocre veterans. Think about how much better the above list of replacements would look if it contains Bartlett instead of Castro, and Kubel instead of Batista.